Soaring Enchanted

Soaring Enchanted
  1. Lark in the Clear Air (3.58)

    The words are by Sir Samuel Ferguson of Belfast c1850. Donel O Sullivan says the music is the traditional tune The Taylors Son collected by Lady Ferguson in the west of Ireland. I found the third verse from an old music book in Warwick Library (and I wish I could remember which one it was in!)

  2. Country Life (3.57)

    Verses 1 and 4 of this traditional English song were sung by the Watersons and were from Mick Taylor of Hawes in Wensleydale c1980. The remaining verses are from the oral tradition and AW. This is the song that the Middle Bar Singers always use to start off the unaccompanied singarounds in The Anchor Inn during Sidmouth Folk Festival.

  3. Blackbird (2.26)

    Words & music by Dave Webber 1984. Dave tells me that he wrote this song in the middle of the night when he could not sleep while visiting Anni Fentiman for the weekend and that he has often tried to compose in the small hours again, but without success!

  4. Green Grows the Laurel (4.47)

    The origins of this song are disputed, different versions being popular with gypsies in England, Scotland & Ireland and in the USA in the early 20c. My version is from Folksongs of Britain and Ireland by Peter Kenned, and was collected from Robert Cinnamond in Northern Ireland 1955.

  5. Bright Fine Gold (3.55)

    I first heard this song on the Shellbacks 2006 singing tour of New Zealand. It is from the book New Zealand Folksongs edited by Neil Colquhoun 1965. He adapted it from Ruth Parks version of a nursery rhyme collected in 1952 from Francois St Omer of Queenstown, who recalled it from his childhood in the 1880s. Tuapeka Creek is near Lawrence, a small town in the Otago region, some 50 miles inland from Dunedin. There was also a goldrush at Wangapeka (One-a-pecker) near Nelson. During the 1861 gold rush only a few people struck gold and it could be very lonely and cold in the mountains. Verse 4 is by AW.

  6. Leggers Song (2.48)

    Keepers Lock wrote the words for this in c1998, using the music from the Sidney Carter’s song Down Below. I added the chorus. Leggers lay on the top of narrowboats and propelled them through canal tunnels in the mid 1800s.

  7. Abbots Bromley Horn Dance / Butterfly (2.51)

    The Horn Dance is the tune traditionally played for the ancient dance. In practice, the Abbots Bromley Horn Dancers themselves don’t usually use it any more. So make sure that you get to Thaxted in Essex on the Saturday after the late May Bank Holiday to watch this mystical dance performed by the Thaxted Morris Men to an audience of 2,000+, with a single fiddle playing the tune! The Butterfly is a traditional Irish slip jig, which is usually played a lot faster, but at this speed it also has a similar trance-like feel to it.

  8. Grey Funnel Line (4.59)

    Words & music c1960 by the great singer / song writer Cyril Tawney, who died on 21 April 2005. It is a lament for those in the Royal Navy (ie the Grey Funnel Line), who are at sea for long periods. Cyril said: You get used to being away from home … and nostalgia, love, or a bit of both can bring a great deal of misery, especially around sunset. He told me that he composed it while hoping to accompany himself on the English concertina but he never persevered with the instrument.

  9. Constant Lovers (3.47)

    Different versions of this traditional song have been collected in England, Ireland and the USA. The Rev Sabine Baring-Gould thought it English, probably derived from Captain Digbys Farewell in the Roxburgh Ballads 1671. Part of it could be based on a music hall parody. There are several versions in the Bodleian Library from c1803 to c1880, where it is often called The Lovers Lament For Her Sailor. In their Songbook the Copper Family call it The Forsaken Mermaid.


  1. Water is Wide (3.40)

    Cecil Sharp collected this lovely song from Mrs Caroline Cox of High Ham, Somerset in 1905. The chorus is from Miss Elizabeth Mogg of Doddington, Somerset in 1904. Some verses have been derived from Waly Waly and The Ballad of Jamie Douglas c1725.

  2. Lincolnshire Poacher (1.43)

    William Chappell in his 1865 book Popular Music of Olden Times said that the song was well known among the peasantry in the early 1800s and was sung to King George IV at one of his harvest homes c1845. The music is probably derived from The Manchester Angel c1770.

  3. Borneo (3.03)

    Words & music by Ken Cockrell c1968. Verse 1 & rewrites of verses 4 & 5 are by Tom Lewis. It was written as a challenge for a friend Vic Simpson (of Young No More) in memory of another friend, John Purdy. I learned the song from my great singing friend, Chris Gorniak, who had a wonderfully expressive, almost gravelly, voice and who tragically died on 1 January 2005. He leaves a large hole in the unaccompanied singing community.

  4. Linden Lea (2.46)

    William Barnes wrote the poem, My Orchard in Linden Lea, in 1859 as part of a collection of poems in Dorset dialect entitled Homely Rhymes. The classical music composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, who had a particular interest in folk music, put it to music in 1901.

  5. Ashokan Farewell / Far Away (3.29)

    Jay Ungar originally wrote Ashokan Farewell in 1983 as a haunting tune for the annual fiddle and dance camp he runs at Ashokan in New York States Catskill Mountains. It was made famous by being used as the theme tune for an American TV documentary on The Civil War. The New York guitarist, Peter Jung, wrote Far Away, which also has a haunting quality. I first heard it in 2004, while on a singing tour to the USA with the Shellback Chorus.

  6. Wild Mountain Thyme (3.45)

    Francis McPeake based the words of this popular song on The Braes of Balquidder by William Tannahill, the Scottish poet c1810. The music is a traditional Scottish or Irish air.

  7. Limehouse Reach (3.18)

    The words are from a poem by Cicely Fox Smith (1882-1954) in her book Full Sail 1926 and the music is by Dave Webber c1985. Cicely Fox Smith was an intrepid poet who went to sea on her own and who wrote about her life among sailors, travelling to Africa, the Pacific & the west coast of Canada. Limehouse Reach is a dockland area of London and the lightermen worked the small boats, which helped to load and unload the larger ships.

  8. Leaving of Liverpool (2.59)

    There is real history in this song. William Doeflinger collected it in New York from Captain Richard Maitland who learned it from a Liverpool man while serving on the General Knox in 1885. The David Crocket was launched in Mystic on 18 October 1853 and its figurehead now hangs in the Mystic Marine Museum (at which I have sung with the Shellback Chorus). John Burgess was lost overboard off the River Plate on 25 June 1874 on his last voyage before retirement. Liverpool to New York to San Francisco was quite a journey for the sailing ships, typically taking some 8+ months.

  9. Parting Glass (2.23)

    This is believed to be of Scottish origin and was a common parting song prior to the popularity of Auld Lang Syne. But it has been popular in Ireland for so long that they have just about made it their own!